My Mum & I were walking past Preston Circus fire station, past a picket line of striking fire fighters. I knew they were on strike from the news. They cheerfully rattled their collecting buckets. My Mum stopped, opened her purse and donated £5m, which seemed to me to be an enormous sum. Certainly it was far bigger than anything she had publicly donated to charity. Quietly and quickly she folded it and slipped it the slot of a collecting tin and then dragged me on down the street. I asked why she had given the strikers money. Although her reply is now forgotten, her reasons were clear.
Public sector workers deserve our support. As with the military, there has long been an unspoken covenant between them and us. We have always rewarded their career in public service with a reasonable deal in retirement, by way of a pension. Now the thieving Tory bastards want to change that, by raiding the public service pension funds. None of these people have ever been in the running for any of the jobs in question; that inexperience goes some way to explaining their fumbling attempts to grapple with the situation. Using Vince Cable to threaten us was unwise. Imagining they are as strong as the Thatcher government would be foolhardy. Plainly they are not. They couldn’t even swing a majority.
Cameron caves in each week over something. Some weeks it is a minor issue, some bigger. The right-wing of his faction slaver for the blood of the Liberals freshly slaughtered at an election. The thieving Tory bastards have a much bigger problem to contend with. This looms over everything they do in public but is never mentioned. They have a recruitment crisis. The thieving Tory bastard who recently had the good grace to die at Glastonbury, Christoper Shale, neatly summed it up: “To many potential members the idea of Tory party social activity is at best rather a threat than promise, at worst a perfect oxymoron.” The average age of their local associations is probably unknown but is thought to be over 60. Tim Montgomerie, of the ConservativeHome website said, “there is no real benefit in being a party member.”
That is the nub. Traditionally, people joined the Labour Party because they wanted to engineer social change. Nowadays, these people are rejoining the Labour Party or joining the Green Party. The Liberal Democrats are closed for new members and also don’t want any more votes for a generation – Clegg’s position on that is clear. However, people joined the local Conservative Associations for personal gain. Trouble is, there hasn’t been any personal gain in being associated with the nasty party for quite some time. Daughters were sent along to meet husbands, sons to meet wives. The New Labour Project has successfully wrecked the Conservative Associations by refashioning them into the modern political equivalent of the Freemasons. No-one wants to be publicly associated with them.
If we truly lived in a TV democracy, their lack of young members might not matter but we don’t. Political parties still need people to go and ‘knock up the vote’ on election day. They need people, physically. Without any youthful energy, they just won’t be able to get to enough doorbells. Their presence will not be felt. They may be able to win an election but only just. The longer this situation goes on for, the worse it will become. It won’t fix itself. The older and older the average age of the conservative associations becomes, the less chance their is of them being able to recruit younger people. This withering process has been in motion for some considerable time. It began under Thatcher. Cameron was popular with the massed ranks of the blue rinse brigade at the conference of the conservative associations because to them he looked like the sort of boy you’d like your daughter to bring home. Unfortunately, this is a rather different sort of animal from the man you’d want to run the country. The rest of us can see the difference easily but they are now socially blinkered.
This tunnel vision hampers their judgment. In the winter of discontent, my Mum was on the losing side but only just. The Tatcher government was rocked but a convenient war over some previously unheard of islands came to the rescue. There isn’t going to be a face saving war for Cameron. The battle against Gadaffi doesn’t count because the French started it. His government will limp on from one crisis to another. The next one is on Thursday, when the public service rebels in one massive strike.